Indoor Clean Air Act; prohibits smoking in certain public buildings, restaurants, etc., exceptions. (SB1105)

Introduced By

Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act; penalty. Moves the regulation of smoking in restaurants from Title 15.2 to a new chapter in Title 32.1. This bill prohibits smoking in all indoor restaurants and bar and lounge areas in the Commonwealth. Requires the posting of No Smoking signs and provides for a $25 civil penalty for a violation of these provisions. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/13/2009Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/09 090671286
01/13/2009Referred to Committee on Local Government
01/27/2009Rereferred from Local Government (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/27/2009Rereferred to Education and Health
01/28/2009Assigned Education sub: Special on Smoking
01/29/2009Impact statement from DPB (SB1105)
01/29/2009Reported from Education and Health with substitute (11-Y 3-N) (see vote tally)
01/29/2009Committee substitute printed 094138286-S1
01/30/2009Constitutional reading dispensed (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/02/2009Read second time
02/02/2009Reading of substitute waived
02/02/2009Committee substitute agreed to 094138286-S1
02/02/2009Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB1105S1
02/03/2009Read third time and passed Senate (26-Y 13-N) (see vote tally)
02/04/2009Placed on Calendar
02/04/2009Read first time
02/04/2009Referred to Committee on General Laws
02/06/2009Reported from General Laws with substitute (12-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
02/06/2009Committee substitute printed 091847286-H1
02/08/2009Read second time
02/09/2009Engrossed by House - committee substitute with amendments HB1105H1
02/09/2009Pursuant to House Rule 52 motion to take out of order agreed to (96-Y 0-N)
02/09/2009VOTE: --- AGREE TO MOTION (96-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/09/2009Read third time
02/09/2009Committee substitute agreed to 091847286-H1
02/09/2009Amendments by Delegate Kilgore agreed to
02/09/2009Amendments by Delegate Gear rejected
02/09/2009Engrossed by House - committee substitute with amendments SB1105H1
02/09/2009Passed House with substitute with amendments (59-Y 39-N)
02/09/2009VOTE: --- PASSAGE (59-Y 39-N) (see vote tally)
02/11/2009Passed by for the day
02/12/2009Passed by for the day
02/13/2009Passed by for the day
02/16/2009House substitute agreed to by Senate (29-Y 9-N) (see vote tally)
02/16/2009Title replaced 091847286-H1
02/16/2009House amendments rejected by Senate (11-Y 28-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2009House insisted on amendments
02/17/2009House requested conference committee
02/17/2009Senate acceded to request (33-Y 7-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2009Conferees appointed by Senate
02/17/2009Senators: Northam, Locke, Quayle
02/18/2009Conferees appointed by House
02/18/2009Delegates: Cosgrove, Jones, Eisenberg
02/19/2009Conference substitute printed 091857584-S2
02/19/2009Conference report agreed to by Senate (27-Y 13-N) (see vote tally)
02/19/2009Conference report agreed to by House (60-Y 39-N)
02/19/2009VOTE: --- ADOPTION (60-Y 39-N) (see vote tally)
02/27/2009Impact statement from DPB (SB1105S2)
03/04/2009Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB1105ER)
03/04/2009Signed by President
03/06/2009Signed by Speaker
03/09/2009Impact statement from DPB (SB1105ER)
03/09/2009G Approved by Governor-Chapter 154 (effective 12/1/09)
03/09/2009G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0154)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 3 clips in all, totaling 9 minutes.

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: HB1692.


Gary writes:

I have stopped using restaurants in Virginia, it only take a few extra minutes for me to cross into Wash, DC or Maryland. (Another revenue loss for Virginia). It is discussing & unhealthy for patrons & empolyees of restaurants to have to deal with. My son has breathing problems & I can not stand for my clothes to reak after going to dinner. The health issues are paramount to ban smoking in all public places.

Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The Virginia Interfaith Center supports this bill.

Sam R writes:

Maybe, just maybe lawmakers will move to protect the health and wellness of Virginians. We don't let restaurants and bars store hazardous waste on their property because of the potential harm, this is no different - second hand smoke is deadly. Please protect us, protect the workers, protect Virginians.

peter writes:

People should have the freedom to smoke, especially in bars! If you don't like the smoke, go somewhere else! Please don't limit my freedoms just because you don't like it. Smart restaurants will cater to non-smokers like they do to every segment of the population - older people, food snobs, obese people, etc. Let's keep Virginia a beacon of freedom in this regard.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Peter, a lot of what's motivating interest in this bill is actually the employees of restaurants, rather than the customers. Secondhand smoke is undeniably dangerous, and there's some real questions as to whether it's fair to expose employees to that (especially for the $2.13 food service minimum wage).

Complicating things enormously is that in Virginia, there's no such thing as a bar. I agree with you that bars seem to be a perfectly appropriate place to smoke. But our state has only restaurants that happen to have a liquor license; there is no legal definition of a bar. So it's not possible to permit smoking in bars, but not restaurants. Changing that definition would be an enormously difficult undertaking, or so I'm told.

In my conversations with bar owners in the Charlottesville area, I've been surprised to have a few tell me that they'd love to ban smoking, but that they don't dare do it, and they'd be very happy to have the legislature do so for them. I don't entirely understand why that's so, but it does seem to be a sentiment that's out there.

Anybody who opposes this bill will need to put forward an argument as to why it's acceptable for employees of restaurants to be exposed to secondhand smoke, at least if they want their criticism to be effective. Or so I understand it, since that's how it went down last year. If I've got that wrong, I hope a lobbyist or legislator will correct me.

Justin Beck writes:

Peter, couldn't I say the same thing to you? I don't like smoking, but my non-smoking doesn't pose a risk to your health.

Why should I go somewhere else when I'm not the demographic causing health issues to innocent by-standers? If you don't like it, you should go somewhere else.

Lucie Ferguson writes:

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death. Second hand smoke is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than what smokers take into their lungs. Third hand smoke (remnants left over after smoking) linger for days and have recently been found to be dangerous as well. Employees, musicians, residents deserve clean air in restaurants. There are so many things we can't do to improve health. This one is proven to reduce deaths and disability. Let's get it passed.

cindy writes:

NON SMOKERS boycott the facilities that allow smoking, let the restaurant owners decide who they wish to cater to, smokers or non smokers. New resteraunts may open for only smokers some for only non smokers. Why is the state involved in this, don't pass this bill, let the business owners determine what is best for them to do. Employees, don't work in resteraunts that allow smoking if it bothers you. Is this really something you want Richmond dealing with?

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Employees, don't work in resteraunts that allow smoking if it bothers you.

That's really the crux of it, Cindy—should employers have the right to put employees in work conditions that will make them sick, and quite possibly kill them? Imagine a nuclear power plant that provides no radiation shields, no leaded walls, and just tells their employers "don't work in nuclear power plants if it bothers you."

Some folks think that businesses shouldn't be permitted to do that sort of thing, while others prefer the free market approach. But it is important that you consider fully the effects of each school of thought.

travis writes:

The point that everyone should be focusing on is the health and wellbeing of the workers. I have a great jazz club no more than 2 minutes walk from my house. They have great music, cheap booze, and some terrific polish food (yes, polish food). But I choose to never go there because the smoke is so bad. Now, I have that choice, so I do not want them to have to ban smoking on my part. However, in this economy, jobs are hard to find. If the bartenders and wait staff are making good money there, then it would be very difficult to quit just because "they dont like the smoke". It is unfair that people should have to work in an enviroment that is blatently unsafe. Now, of course there are naturally dangerous jobs, however these jobs are usually well compendated such as the king crab fishermen or loggers. Also, these jobs are few and far between, unlike a position at one of thousands upon thousands of reasturants.

All in all, do not pass this bill for the consumers, pass it for the employees!

Brent writes:

This bill is for the health of the employees? GIVE ME A BREAK! Just like patrons have the choice to dine at a non-smoking establishment workers can choose to work at the same non-smoking places, and if you want to give me a sob story on how workers can't always choose and have to take jobs they don't want, that's pathetic. I'm a construction worker and I have to handle hazardous and cancerous chemicals every day, breathe in smoke and dust caused by our trades as well as others working in the vicinity. Where is the bill that's just going to outlaw economic production and urban sprawl so I can be protected and safe from all the dangers in the outside world? Personal responsibility should be taken into an account when going outside your home. I don't go sightseeing in Highland Park and hang out in Gilpin Court because it's an obvious danger, and if I don't want to be around cigarette smoke, then I can go to Strawberry St. Cafe or the Olive Garden for christ's sake. No one is forcing you cry babies to go eat at a biker bar or a beer joint. I don't trample on your lives so get your nose and your laws out of mine.

Gerbera writes:

My boyfriend is in the restaurant industry. After many years of working in smoke-filled restaurants, he finally was able to transition to a smoke-free restaurant last year.

It shouldn't be hard to imagine that jobs at smoke-free restaurants aren't so easy to land...they are sought after. In many towns, those in the restaurant field have very few opportunities to get those jobs, so they are left to work in smoker friendly establishments.

Nonprofit NoVA, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:


robert legge writes:

Would this bill prevent smoking in a private club? While I NEVER go into a restaurant that allows smoking, I think we should be kind to smokers. After all, they're not going to live very long.

Jack writes:

I find both Peter and Brent’s rationale shallow and self centered at best. At what point (none to my knowledge) do people (smokers) have the right to jeopardize the health of others (non-smokers)? Both patrons and employees are at the mercy of smokers. Further, non-smokers often to not have the option of picking and choosing which non-smoking establishment to go to. I live in Blacksburg, VA and there is only one non-smoking establishment in the entire town (and it is always packed). As such I do not frequent, nor do many of my colleagues, establishments that allow smoking. As for the restaurants that allow smoking, as a rule, they have smoking and non-smoking areas. Unfortunately smoke does not have the ability to know where these arbitrary boundaries stop and start. If one chooses to smoke then so be it but their actions do not need to put the rest of the restaurant population in jeopardy. This bill is long overdue and could ultimately be responsible for saving millions of dollars in health care.

peter writes:

freedom is self-centered? here's my problem with that argument.

We have government to protect freedoms. When MY freedom is imposed upon by YOUR freedom, government needs to step in to arbitrate. If this ban was on smoking in government buildings or in gov't owned spaces, I'd agree...but this is PRIVATE PROPERTY!

you have the right to stop going to smoking establishments, and those places have every right to not allow people to smoke. You are on private property. You should be able to do what you want (within reasonable limits)

this seems to me to be a vocal minority. if there were enough people in the market for non-smoking-only restaurants, there would be more of a market for it.

i can't stand this blanket rule to ruin liberties because some people are inconvenienced or because restaurant owners dont have the guts to make a hard decision.

another of our freedoms out the window...

Gweneth Johenneth writes:

I like smokin. I like my lungs black.
Why you tellin me where I can smokey and where I can't smokey?

mark hildebrandt writes:

This bill is just for practice. The government is practicing at taking away freedom. Seventy percent of the restaurants are already non smoking. Non smokes and smokers have a choice. Unfortunately government feels emboldened with those kinds of numbers, and will take actions to remove what it finds abhorrent a choice. Stand up and applaud, but take note once they get done practicing they will come for you.

Ethan writes:

While it has not been brought up in this string of comments, many times there are arguments that a bill such as the one proposed would hurt small businesses, etc. However, if no restaurant allows smoking, then all of them will be on equal ground. In Ohio and other states there is no smoking and it isn't hurting business. Places are still packed. While smoking is the right of a person and that right should not be taken away, a person should be able to sit in a restaurant or bar for an hour without smoking.